Hard Work. That's All It Takes
“I am a 13-year recovering fat body. I am reminded every day of my former self…I never want to go back to that dark lonely place where I was.”
For most if not all of the years from middle school until the age of 25, I was the typical fat person. I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to be thinner and fitter and let the muscles I had show through the thick layer of fat surrounding most of me.
It sucked being fat growing up. The names, the lack of dates (non-existence more like it), being out of breath and sweating from walking up two flights of stairs, name it, it all sucked. College was no better, especially not when you gain the freshman 30. Walking around in 10 degree winter weather with a t-shirt on, because my natural insulation kept me warm may have been the one benefit. That and being drown proof, because the only thing sinking me was a torpedo.
But I was typical. There was a wanting to lose the weight (all for typical high school guy reasons). I did not understand the implications to short term and long term health then) but there was not the will. Health is hard work. It takes drive and commitment. It does not take excuses. I played tennis in high school and we were supposed to run a mile in 7 minutes or so. So I set about running in the pre-season. Well running sucks when you are fat! You get out of breath very quickly. It hurt. A mile in 7 minutes was impossible. I couldn’t do that. What did I do, I gave up. I did not have the will, or the drive. I got a doctor’s note saying I had running induced asthma and got an inhaler. Of course the inhaler did not help much as it was fatness causing me to gasp for air not asthma. But I made an excuse.
In college I tried to lose weight. After having to step on the “special” scale after my freshman year of having nights where three whoppers, a coke and some oreos, was the warm-up to late night pizza and wings, I tried to make adjustments. Of course I had no knowledge of nutrition as I do now. However, the small attempts I made were not enough. I did not push myself past the limits of perceived pain, and of course the results were nil. I still had the want, but I did not have the drive.
Grad school was next for me, and I stayed heavy my first year. Two bagels with cream cheese and two bottles of ruby red every morning does not help the cause. My second year of grad school was where a switch clicked. Here I was, 5’10” weighing 260 lbs, and I went on a date with a girl that weighed 100 lbs, and was a runner. It did not go past that one date, nor the batting box, but the thought of me ever being naked in front of her embarrassed me. The next day, I started. I had the want, and all of a sudden I had the drive.
I worked my ass off. Hours in the gym each week working past the discomfort. I now had a goal in mind. Now since high school I always lifted weights. But, “cardio”(This was before I knew of CrossFit, era 1998) was never an option. I became a stationary bike hill interval junkie. And it lasted. The drive was there. I had the willpower to change the foods I was eating and make the commitment to losing the weight. And I did. And the more I lost the more drive I had. It was awesome! I went from 255 to 200 in just under 4 months of hard, discomforting work.
That was just the start. Many people lose the weight, they make that struggle to get healthy and fit, reach their goal, than let life get in the way of themselves, and gain it back. Regression back to where they started. But it’s worse since they are now older. Getting there is only part of the battle. Yes, you need the want and the will to make health a priority, but once you get there, that drive to make your health a daily part of your life takes a lot of work. It takes will, each and every day.
I am a 13-year recovering fat body. I am reminded every day of my former self, mentally the body image does not go away, and physically, my skin is still very, very elastic from being stretched so much, not to mention stretch marks. I am sure biologically, I did a lot of damage to my body, which hopefully I have corrected to some extent. I never want to go back to that dark lonely place where I was.
Well how do I ensure this? It takes a lot of hard work every day. I make health a priority in my life. No matter how crazy, stressful and busy life gets with work, family and other commitments, I make the time for me to ensure I am healthy. I know that if I do not have my health, I cannot do all the things which get in the way of me achieving my health. I make time to work out. I feel better when I do. I am more energetic and alive. Now that I found CrossFit three years ago, it makes it even easier as I know tabata squats and tabata push-ups will leave me sucking air if I did them right, it only took 8 minutes, and I feel great afterwards.
There are times where I don’t want to, or am too tired, but I make myself. I have never regretted one of those times where I convinced my brain to work out. I also to this day watch what foods I eat. I am a lot more educated on nutrition than I was 5 years ago, never mind 10. But eating a certain way, eating for health and enjoyment takes hard work, and sometimes planning. I know the cafeteria at work does not have the foods I need to eat. Yes, the food they have is easy and convenient, but health is not easy and convenient, it takes work. I pack my lunch everyday with meat and veggies from home. Sometimes, its super easy to do leftovers from homemade Paleo dinners. Other times, I plan ahead and cook enough protein to last me through the week on Sunday, and package this up for my lunches. It also means sacrificing. The foods I know are good for me are more expensive. I am okay with this. I don’t need new clothes every week, or new fancy toys, or if I had to cable TV or my cell phone. I know I need my health – money spent now is money saved in health care bills.
It also takes a lot of continued will in the company of others. Resisting cake when it is around, or fresh cookies a co-worker brings in. I am continuously inundated with sweets at school. No thank you. I do not want a cookie, or cake. I am too aware what it will do to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have my splurges. I take full enjoyment from them, but I make sure they are occasional and not the norm. If you always have a sweet, because the rest of the day you were “so good”, it’s not a splurge, it is a habit.
My health is a priority in my life, as it should be in everyone’s life, so I make the time for me. I am very fortunate to have a spouse who shares this same commitment to themselves, as it makes things a little easier. We also don’t have kids, however, when (and if) we do, I expect each of us to continue making the commitment to ourselves, as this will only benefit what becomes the most important part in our lives.
Fitness, weight loss, health, whatever you are striving for is not easy, and is a never ending journey. The day the journey ends, is the day you no longer need to worry about health. It is something that takes time, takes work, takes will power, and takes a commitment to you for you. Nothing should come in the way of it, not your job, not your children, not the fact that the car is in the shop, or money is tight. Make the commitment to you. Work hard for you. You deserve it!